Saturday, May 3, 2008

Silence is so Beautiful

As I sit here and type the sun shines over my shoulders, the poppies are continuing to grow and are loaded with buds, the big Cecil Brunner Rose bush that has anchored the corner of the back yard for over fifty years is bursting into bloom with its delicate pink roses--the color of raspberry juice in cream--and it is so quiet that I can hear the keys of the laptop make their thunking noise as I type.

Yesterday was the Feast of St Athanasius, one of the early doctors of the Catholic Church. He is the patron saint of the church around the corner, which is the parish where my family belonged after we came to California. Papa was active in the men's club, serving as its President at least once as well as on the Parish Council. Mama was equally active in the women's club and taught CCD--catechism for grade school children. While I had been confirmed in Toledo in fourth grade, my younger sister was confirmed at St. Athanasius. Both parents also both sang in the choir.

I remember so many things about this parish--Fr. Bose, our first pastor building the church and making sure that the congregation learned to sing Gregorian chant from the cards published by the Gregorian Institute located on Jefferson Avenue in Toledo, Ohio! It was the time of Vatican II, Mass was still in Latin and then the priest turned around to face the people as he celebrated--a radical change from centuries old tradition.

Papa used to say that turning the priest around to face the people and having them join in the responses that had once been reserved for altar boys was probably really enough change for one century! I agreed. Both my parents were buried from this church with splendid Requiem Masses sung by the St. Ann Choir as they had sung while growing up in churches in Toledo where the school children sang the funeral masses for parishioners.

I also remember splendid, lovely May processions with girls in white dresses, flowers and Marian hymns. I hope that if that tradition does not continue, it can be revived. May is also Mary's month, the time to make a home altar and deck it with flowers. Silence helps to pray the rosary and contemplate Mary's role in the life of the church.

In the meantime, I enjoy the irises which look like girls in their frilly party dresses and remember. I am grateful for the silence and the time to remember.

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